Owari no Chronicle:Volume5 Chapter 1
I want to do this forever
But what am I supposed to do
If I feel a stirring in my heart?
—Thinking you are special is old-fashioned.
—Thinking you are normal is even more old-fashioned.
Chapter 1: A Morning Change
A lot is about to change
A morning of beginnings has made this clear
The moon of early summer remains visible in that morning
The air of a summer morning blew through the city.
The sun was beginning to rise, but few cars passed by on the street which was covered in a morning fog.
However, two figures were visible on the sidewalk. Two people were running as the shallow morning sun washed over them from the side. One was a boy in a black track suit and the other was a girl in a white track suit.
They were Sayama and Shinjou.
As they jogged, they entered the giant school alongside the road.
Their path curved ninety degrees away from the cherry trees along the road and toward the school building to the left. With the gym on their left, they passed by the first general school building and the second general school building (which contained the Kinugasa Library) on their right.
They then turned right and cut between the second and third general school buildings to reach the backs of the buildings.
Sayama then began the last spurt while almost destroying the gravel path below his feet.
“Ah, that’s too fast.”
Sayama waved to Shinjou behind him as he moved ahead. He also pulled Baku from his pocket and placed the creature on his head.
He quickly reached the emergency staircase on the east side of the second general school building.
He ran up to the second floor landing while taking three steps at a time. That was their usual gathering spot for meetings and private discussions.
And he arrived.
He looked over the railing toward the empty schoolyard and the sun rising into the sky. Far off in the vast schoolyard were the silhouettes of the strange monuments created by each successive graduating class.
…Such majestic scenery.
He took a breath, loosened his track suit’s collar, and made sure Baku was not falling from his head. He then pulled a stopwatch from his pocket.
The LCD time read 5:50 AM. He then glanced at the seconds display below the clock.
“Fourteen minutes for a half circuit. We still have a long way to go.”
As he spoke to himself, he turned toward the staircase behind him.
As Shinjou climbed the stairs, she looked up at him from the bend in the staircase.
The instant their gazes met, she mistook her footing as if strength had left her legs.
With a quiet voice of surprise, she threw her body to his side. She fell on her back while holding her hair so as not to get it dirty.
“Ha ha. I guess I got careless.”
She laughed while catching her breath while Sayama stood with his hips lowered and his arms spread forward.
…I thought she was going to leap toward me.
“Sayama-kun, why are you making that pose into empty air?
“It seems not everything goes as one might hope.”
He nodded as Shinjou tilted her head and then he looked across the landing. The morning light showed two things on the landing wall.
Sayama had used his finger to write two things in the filth on the wall.
1st-Gear – Fafnir Custom.
2nd-Gear – Yamata.
Sayama suddenly narrowed his eyes toward the two lines written one above the other.
“Is something the matter?” asked a voice from below.
He looked down and saw Shinjou was still lying on the floor. She brushed up her bangs which had stuck to her forehead with sweat.
She looked up at the wall, but the light prevented her from reading the writing from her angle.
She tilted her head, looked back toward him, and showed him a smile.
“It is nothing, Shinjou-kun. Does it bother you?”
“Yes.” She nodded and sat up with the ends of her eyebrows slightly lowered. “You had a similar expression to when your chest hurts.”
“That is worrisome. Perhaps I should visit a doctor.”
“Yes… No, wait! You can’t go to any of the doctors you know! A-and more importantly…”
For some reason, she frantically stood up and kicked the floor with her right heel despite having just run.
“U-um? What are we going to do about that guy from last night? Hiba…Ryuuji-kun, was it?”
Shinjou’s question caused Sayama to cross his arms.
“Hm.” He nodded. “You want to know what we are going to do?”
“Yes. I was wondering… No, wait! You shouldn’t think too much, Sayama-kun! Especially in the morning!”
“What has you panicking so much? I am thinking about this in a perfectly normal fashion.”
“…Just remember. There are some things people simply can’t do.”
“Ha ha ha. Do not worry, Shinjou-kun. I am perfect. …Why would you grab my collar when I say that?”
“Well, I suppose you are perfect in a way.”
He held out a hand to stop her.
She glared at him while they both leaned against the railing.
“At any rate, we were unable to meet with the Hiba boy since that incident.”
He recalled the previous night. The boy claiming to be Hiba Ryuutetsu’s grandson and his female automaton partner had been taken into UCAT custody, but they had heard nothing since.
What had he been fighting using that god of war?
It seemed the investigation team had found white armor fragments on the ground.
Hiba’s god of war had been black.
“He must have been fighting a white god of war. …Most likely one belonging to 3rd-Gear.”
“Do you think it was Typhon?”
“I cannot say for sure, but the odds are good. The Hiba boy’s god of war had wings and it used them in battle. It was on an entirely different level than the UCAT god of war attempting a triple axel underground. And do you remember Ooki-sensei’s announcement just before we headed out?”
He took a breath.
“She said there were two huge readings. …Who would have thought she would ever teach us something useful?”
“I’m going to ignore that last part, okay? …Anyway, she uses the concept-related equipment, so can we assume these were on the level of a Concept Core for her to call them ‘huge’?”
“If so, the white one would be Typhon which is powered by half of 3rd-Gear’s Concept Core. We do not know where the black one came from, but this would mean it possesses half of a Concept Core. If only we knew how he acquired that god of war.”
They had waited in the front lobby to speak with Hiba and the others, but Abram had arrived and ordered them to leave.
…3rd-Gear’s Leviathan Road has yet to begin and we are forced to avoid the related people.
This almost confirmed that the boy named Hiba had some connection to 3rd-Gear.
“The real mystery is why we were not allowed to speak with him.”
“The higher ups must have decided there is some reason why we must not be allowed to meet with him. He is refusing to work with the Leviathan Road for some reason and UCAT also thinks we should stay away from him.”
“He said something about an impurity and that he would cleanse it.”
“Yes, but we were not even allowed to ask about that.”
After leaving UCAT last night, Izumo, Kazami, Shinjou, and Sayama had travelled by train and motorcycle before meeting back up in Oume. After leaving the station, they had discussed their plans at a fast food restaurant.
While folding his arms above the railing, Sayama restated their conclusion from that meeting.
“UCAT will not allow us to approach him, but we wish to know what this impurity is and who he was fighting. And he attends our school, so we can approach him if we want. …UCAT will have realized that much.”
“How about we act as students rather than as Team Leviathan? We have recently discovered an interesting underclassman and wish to speak with him as the student council. We can discuss his personal situation while we are at it.”
The smile in his voice produced a bitter smile from Shinjou.
As her eyebrows relaxed slightly, she glanced over at him.
“That is disobeying orders.”
“It is nothing more than a normal student council activity. Kazami is likely contacting him right about now. The Hiba boy will receive word from his homeroom teacher that the student council has summoned him. Basically, he is being told to meet us behind the school. Heh heh heh. No one in the school can disobey Kazami if she tells them that. We can look forward to this, Shinjou-kun.”
“Yes… She seems to be well-known among the freshmen. I think it’s because she kicked Izumo-san from the rooftop stage during the school band concert for the All Holiday Festival back in May.”
“It had something to do with the force of his shout, didn’t it? The first years panicked, but the second and third years knew it was coming. The cheers for Kazami and cries of ‘gung-ho’ made it quite an amazing performance. You can tell Kazami has grown accustomed to this. She made sure to finish singing all the songs before collecting Izumo from the pond he fell into.”
“Schools make for both good and bad memories, don’t they? And I’m stating that as kindly as I can.”
Shinjou’s shoulders drooped and she sighed. She then grabbed the railing and stretched lightly.
“Anyway, Sayama-kun, are you planning on 3rd-Gear for the next Leviathan Road?”
Sayama did not immediately respond.
He looked back toward the writing on the wall and then nodded.
“That would be the next one if we are to continue in order. Also…it depends on our meeting today.”
“I see. I wonder how it’ll go. And if we go up against 3rd, we’ll really be faced with gods of war, won’t we?”
As she muttered that, a slight wind suddenly gathered around her body.
As her hair shook and she twisted her body a little, a faint mist of white steam appeared around her.
But the mist vanished in an instant and she remained still while gently holding her own body. She shrank down with red tinging her cheeks.
“I-I just became Setsu…”
“I do not see why that is anything to blush over.”
Shinjou shook her head.
“I-it’s embarrassing. When I choose what to wear, I’m deciding which one I will be. When I’m in the dorm room with you, I can take it easy and just be Sadagiri, but I have to be either Sadame or Setsu while outside. Before I revealed my identity, I had to be Sadame during the day, so I was prepared to dress as a girl, but…”
“But now is different?”
She gave a small nod.
“I think it’s because I haven’t had to dress as a girl much lately due to being in the dorm. Maybe I’m being too self-conscious, but when I change without planning for it, my preparations such as clothing are all wrong. …It makes me feel naked. I find it hard to face forward and continue walking.”
“But you always wear Sadame-kun’s equipment at UCAT and sometimes train from evening into the night…”
“I view that more as my equipment than specifically Sadame’s equipment. There are also some normal clothes that I feel comfortable both ways in. Like pajamas for example. Also, I feel more comfortable if I change my clothes after the change, even if I’m changing right back into the same clothes. At the Tamiya house, I use their bathroom for that.”
As she spoke, she seemed to realize something and smiled bitterly while bringing a hand to her mouth.
“Thank you for staying with me even when I continue talking about Setsu and Sadame after you said Sadagiri is fine.”
“If being with you is enough to receive your thanks, how about we be together even more, Shinjou-kun? …Anyway, are you feeling naked as Setsu-kun right now?”
“Yes. Especially around the chest and butt… I don’t want to meet anyone before reaching the dorm.”
Sayama realized she was covering herself with her arms despite wearing the track suit.
“There is a way to resolve this.”
“Eh? There is?”
“Yes. Change clothes here so you feel more comfortable.”
After a moment, she began to panic.
“I-I was careless! Forget it! Forget it, Sayama-kun! I-I-I-I’m fine!”
“No need to worry. I am not so heartless that I would make you walk around outside while mentally naked.” He turned his back, looked up into the blue sky, and spread his arms. “Now, change clothes while my back is turned.”
He waited five seconds. When he did not hear the rustling of clothes, he turned around. He saw Shinjou taking small, tiptoeing steps down the stairs.
“Shinjou-kun! You need not force yourself!”
But then he realized what Shinjou was doing. He silently rushed down toward Shinjou who had reached the turn in the stairway.
“I see. So you are going to change in the shadow of the staircase? That is a most sensible idea, Shinjou-kun!”
“In what world is that sensible!?”
She stopped and turned around with her eyebrows raised.
And Sayama collided with her as he ran down the stairs.
They tripped down the stairs.
In that instant, Sayama had to make a decision. He had to decide between protecting Shinjou from harm and helping her change her clothes.
…Which one do I choose!?
He rolled down the stairs and out into the schoolyard behind the building.
I hit my back, he realized as he looked up. There he saw the sky…and Shinjou’s face.
She was frowning with her eyes closed and clinging to his chest as he lay on his back.
She was unharmed, so he muttered to himself.
“Th-this is not good. What if you’re hurt?”
She frantically got up and looked at him. Seeing the look of worry in her eyes, he nodded, raised his arms, and spoke in a calming tone.
“I am unharmed and neither are you. …That is what I deemed good. I made the right decision.”
“The decision between protecting you from harm and helping you change your clothes.”
“There is quite a difference between those two options. But still…”
She sighed and the tension left her body. She leaned her warm and soft body on him once more.
“I am glad to hear you say that. I truly was not mistaken to choose both options.”
She questioningly touched her butt and felt her underwear.
The face lying on his chest paled in surprise for an instant and quickly grew red.
“W-wait! Sayama-kun! Where are my pants!?”
“If you are to change back into them, you must first take them off, Shinjou-kun.” He then pulled the folded track suit pants from under his head. “And without this, I would have hit my head. It is my turn to thank you.”
“Yes, yes. I’m glad I could be of some help. …Now give them back.”
“You must remove the top first.”
“Eh? S-stop! Don’t try to take off the top!”
As he lifted the track suit far enough to see her sweaty stomach, she frantically held it down with her hands.
“C-c-c-c-c-c-calm d-d-d-d-down, Sayama-kun.”
“I think you need to calm down first. And as you do, I will take care of this.”
“Eh?” she asked as he reached for the underwear covering her butt and tried to peel it away. “N-no!! The bottom is even worse! You can’t do this here!”
She frantically sat up.
She straddled his body to prevent him from removing her underwear.
But even if she said no, she had been the one to recommend changing her clothes, so he knew there was no problem with his actions.
“Shinjou-kun, why do you grow so flustered and reject what you yourself suggested?”
“Because you are insane!!”
Suddenly, several footsteps passed by.
A line of the blue uniforms belonging to the girls volleyball team passed by for their early morning training.
They all smiled and nodded as they passed, so Sayama waved and nodded back.
After a while, the footsteps disappeared into the distance and Shinjou slowly collapsed. Her forehead struck his chest.
“…It’s over. This is going to start more strange rumors.”
“Heh heh heh. The normal students do not know the truth. This is filling me with a sense of superiority.”
“That isn’t the issue! What are we going to do? They’ll spread a rumor that I was straddling you while wearing girls’ underwear!”
“It is not a rumor if it is true, Shinjou-kun. I intend to gladly accept this truth for the sake of history.”
“That’s just another fabricated truth in the History According to Sayama!!”
As her voice reverberated through the air, an electronic tone sounded.
It was Sayama’s cell phone. He pulled it from his pocket and saw it was from UCAT. As Shinjou looked up in surprise, he answered.
“It is I.”
“What is it, Sibyl-kun? I am busy undressing Shinjou-kun.”
Suddenly, someone began strangling him.
In a dimly lit room, someone suddenly sat up in a bed.
It was a boy. He was short and he wore a black T-shirt and shorts while sleeping. Below his short hair, he had a scar running in a diagonal line along his forehead and his eyes were not a normal color.
They were red.
He gasped for breath and pulled up the light blanket while bringing a hand to his face with a blank yet panicked expression.
He crossed his legs and leaned forward on the bed. He knitted his brow and his eyes focused on the room before him.
A curtain covered the window and blocked out the light of that summer morning.
A metalworking desk with a vise attached sat next to the window.
The bookcase next to the desk contained maps and specialized books on using bladed weapons and martial arts.
Everywhere else, the walls were completely covered by vests, work pants, and other clothes hanging on them. All of them were dirty from years of use.
The two picture frames hanging above the desk were the room’s only non-practical items.
The two frames contained school diplomas. They were from elementary school and middle school and they both contained the name Hiba Ryuuji.
The boy looked at his own name written there.
Silently, he moved the two fingers on his face. He let out a slow breath as he touched his forehead. He spent several minutes doing so.
And as he exhaled, sweat from his forehead travelled down his fingers.
Rather than wiping away the sensation, he closed his eyes, breathed in, and opened his mouth.
“What a horrible dream.”
His dream had been a reliving of a battle with 3rd-Gear’s god of war.
…Was that the battle from last year?
On that night, the black god of war piloted by him and Mikage had flown west in search of 3rd-Gear’s headquarters. They had ended up in the Osaka region.
Their god of war and the enemy’s one could both function in this Gear without expanding a concept space by using a philosopher’s stone.
But 3rd-Gear always fought after bringing his and Mikage’s god of war into a concept space.
He had never spoken with 3rd-Gear. According to his grandfather, most of the 3rd-Gear survivors were automatons and most of them could not function in Low-Gear.
The green god of war that had appeared before his eyes had likely been remotely controlled by the automatons and the battle had occurred inside a concept space in the plains of Osaka.
—Metal is alive.
In that concept, metal bodies truly held life. Hiba and Mikage’s god of war had undergone a philosopher’s stone treatment which allowed it to function in Low-Gear, but it was no different. That treatment allowed it to use its abilities as a machine.
A true god of war was a type of living machine.
Under the effects of the concept that gave metal life, Hiba’s body, which contained a single life, was broken down by the god of war’s dismantling mechanism and inserted into the different mechanisms of the god of war. This allowed him to join with the god of war. Rather than piloting it, he felt more like his body had transformed into the machine. He did not know the exact method used.
…But it feels like melting.
The eight meter giant was a weapon that used a frame as bones, replaced its muscles with cylinders and artificial muscles, sensed using devices, and controlled its power with a living mind.
Hiba understood that was how gods of war worked.
The battle that night had ended quickly.
As the green god of war had swung its sword on the surface, Hiba had backed away.
A song had escaped his lips. It had been the hymn titled Silent Night.
…The song from my memories.
Mikage had sung that song on the night his family had taken her in as an automaton.
His father had left Mikage with them and then he had never returned from his job.
That had been ten years before.
Hiba had fought while singing the song that had thoroughly permeated him.
The enemy’s sword had flown toward him along the shortest route.
It had flown in a horizontal line to the right and then back to the left. After he had opened some distance, it had stabbed forward as he landed.
That had been the timing.
He had looked at the moonlight shadow on the ground rather than directly at the enemy’s sword.
That jab had to be looked at in three dimensions, but the shadow had been only two dimensions. Using that, he had calculated just the height and slipped beneath the sword.
With a roar, he had succeeded.
His right fist had half-forcibly broken the green god of war. Its armor had split, the artificial muscles and frame inside had bent and broken, and the abdomen had been knocked diagonally.
This had produced the sound of heavy metals being destroyed.
Once his opponent could not move, he had kicked the green god of war as if sweeping it away.
With the sound of crumbling dirt, the green wreckage had rolled below the moon.
…Now I can rest easy for the moment.
But as soon as he had thought that, something else had arrived.
A giant white form had descended from the sky to his right.
He had once heard of this god of war from his grandfather. He had heard a god of war had been made as a pair to his black one and that it used half the Concept Core as a power source. It was Typhon.
He had recognized it in an instant.
And it had moved differently.
…Someone’s inside it.
Defeating it could kill the pilot.
But he had reflexively chosen to attack.
He had done so because the enemy had already been charging toward him.
…Can I do this!? No… I have to!
He had picked up the green god of war’s sword and attacked Typhon.
The silver weapon had flown diagonally up from the bottom left in almost a perfectly straight line.
Even if this attack was evaded, Hiba could defend by holding the sword at the middle right.
As if in response, Typhon had stepped in and drawn its own weapon from its right shoulder. It had been a large white sword. The blade had been straight and thick and it had been filled with a lingering light.
Its movements had not been as regulated as the remote controlled ones and it had attacked with pure strength.
Typhon had roared as it attacked.
Someone had supposedly been piloting it, but the voice had not sounded human.
The voice had sounded female and it had pierced through everything like a scream or cry of anger.
Hiba had gathered all his strength and repelled the roar. He had forcibly ignored it and taken action.
In the next instant, his sword had struck the enemy’s sword.
He had held the blade firmly and went in for a second attack.
The angular facial structure of the enemy’s face had contained blue lights for eyes.
…They look like the moonlight.
As soon as he had that thought, their blades had struck. Or they should have.
Something odd had happened instead.
The white god of war had suddenly vanished.
In the next instant, he had heard Mikage’s voice.
“Ryuuji-kun! An attack is coming from the right!”
He had reacted to Mikage’s shout coming from the voice device.
It had all begun again.
All thoughts had vanished from his mind and he had moved purely on reflex.
He had flown forward to move out of the way.
And that decision had saved him.
He had evaded the attack.
The large sword had scraped his metal right cheek and passed by.
He had felt the wind produced by the strike on the god of war’s skin. He had known the strike was powerful enough to decapitate him.
He had heard quick pursuing footsteps behind him.
…What is going on!? I thought I attacked it!
His enemy had stolen his turn to attack.
And so he had turned around. Cautious of that previous disappearance, he had taken a defensive stance.
An attack had come. It had been a fast, heavy, repeating, yet normal attack.
When he had deflected the sword with his own blade as the sword had swung down toward him, the enemy had then rotated at high speed by creating an explosion of air from its left wings. As it had rotated, it had sent the second strike. When he had moved back as the fierce horizontal slash arrived, the white god of war had purposefully let its sword fly wide through the air and thrown a reverse roundhouse kick as it continued to rotate.
The repeated large, swinging attacks had been similar to a constant rotation.
And Hiba had made a certain decision when faced with that rotation.
He had flown.
The black god of war had evaded upwards and into the sky behind it. As night approached morning, it had flown into the sky with the moon.
He had put some distance between them, but he had had no intention of stopping there. If his opponent was going to continue rotating its sword like that…
“I can throw in a wedge to stop the rotation!”
As the white god of war had rotated the large sword in a raised position, Hiba had thrown his sword down at it.
He had thrown the blade at close range like it was a spear. He had targeted the white god of war’s face.
But the metallic noise it had produced was the sound of the sword shattering in midair.
But that had been fine.
He had swung his right fist and quickly descended.
It had been a power dive with all his weight behind his right fist. If it connected, it would mess up his arm while smashing his opponent’s facial structure.
He had accelerated.
He had swung down his right fist while descending.
And in that instant, he had seen something.
This time he saw it more clearly.
The white god of war had vanished before his eyes.
It had been the same as before. Just as their swords had not clashed earlier, it had neutralized his attack.
He had recalled what he had seen a moment earlier.
…When I attacked, it disappeared and attacked from a blind spot!
“Then will it attack from a blind spot again!?”
Before he had even finished speaking, the truth had presented itself in the form of an attack.
But it had been an attack that could not exactly be called an attack.
Just before he had landed, a fist had struck him from behind.
It had been a light strike as if telling him to get down to the ground or to open up some space.
But the timing of the attack had been strange. The instant after Typhon had vanished had not been enough time to swing its fist. The fist had struck the very moment after Typhon had disappeared.
It could not have used this attack in that time.
All attacks had a stance to use them from and a movement that let the attack reach the enemy. Those things required a certain amount of time.
But in the instant Hiba had attacked from his stance, Typhon had appeared in his blind spot and attacked without any preparation time.
He had not known how it worked. All he had known was that his time to attack had been taken away.
The black god of war had fallen to its knees, so he had frantically stood up and swiftly stepped forward.
He had then turned around to look behind him. He had seen a white form floating in the sky there.
It had been Typhon. The white god of war had stood with its back to him in the spot he had been in a moment earlier.
…What was that attack just now?
If it had attacked with its sword rather than its fist, he would have been killed.
“Was that supposed to be a warning?”
Without giving him any answers, Typhon had turned just its head toward him.
He had seen Typhon’s eyes. Earlier, the eyes had contained a pale blue light similar to the moon.
As if to affirm the voice that had escaped the black god of war, Typhon had faced forward.
And an explosion of wind had occurred a moment later.
Typhon had flown.
He had stretched out his hand, but it had not been in time.
Before he had even been able to pursue, Typhon had accelerated away.
He had power, but he had been unable to pursue or fight.
That was when he had woken from the dream.
He took a breath and opened his eyes.
He no longer found himself in that dark space with the moon at the peak. He was in a small room filling with the morning light. It was his room, a room built around fighting.
“This really is a small room.”
He wiped the sweat from his brow, touched the scar, and got out of bed.
The feeling of the gaps between floorboards on the bottom of his feet was very different from the feeling of the ground on the bottom of the god of war’s feet from his dream. The scale was much smaller, but it was much more relaxing.
He then left the room. He opened the door and entered the second floor hallway. The second floor contained nothing but the stairs leading down to his right and Mikage’s room across the hall.
The landing window had no curtain, so he saw the morning light and heard the chirping of the birds.
He sighed and his shoulders finally relaxed. He then faced the opposite door.
“I need to wake Mikage-san.”
Morning sometimes came early for Tsukuyomi Miyako and sometimes it did not.
She had few classes now that she was in her fourth year of university and she could choose to take classes that started closer to noon. She had recently been waking up early to look for a job, but she would never wake up early without an alarm clock.
And at the moment, she heard no alarm.
As she started to doze off again, she felt light on the outside of her eyelids.
…It must be morning.
As she judged the time, she remembered she had the entire day off. She had no classes, the employment department had not called for her, and she had no interviews scheduled. Her mother would be at IAI for work.
…I guess I’ll eat some breakfast, take a short break, and go rent some DVDs or something.
She had taken a liking to the romance drama “A-Another Proposal” that she had started renting recently. The protagonist was a hardcore stalker and his persistent advances while always saying “just this once, just this once” had real intensity. During the last episode, he had been beaten up and thrown from a bridge into a ravine, but she knew that was not enough to kill him.
“I hope they have a copy left.”
As she spoke sleepily, her voice was surprisingly clear. She decided that meant her body had woken up. She focused and noticed she was wrapped in a soft blanket and resting her head on a large pillow.
But then she remembered that she slept in a futon and used a buckwheat pillow.
Doubt entered her mind, but she was unsure what exactly this doubt meant. She was sleeping peacefully, but her bedding was different. What was she supposed to make of that?
And as if to further her doubt, a young female voice spoke.
“Princess, lunch is ready.”
The words were oddly overlapped as if she were hearing two voices at once. She had been unable to quite catch one, but the one she heard clearly was perfectly understandable.
“Who are you calling a princess?”
With that question, she opened her eyes. As her eyes focused, she first saw the color.
Specifically, she saw white.
The ceiling was large and pure white. The dried surface measured about thirty square meters and she was surrounded by four walls made of the same material. A thick window on the wall to the left let in the outside light. She slept on a bed, she was covered by a blanket made of a glossy white material, and someone stood to her right.
“Who are you?”
She looked up from the pillow at the person.
…A foreign woman?
She had long blonde hair and blue eyes. She looked a little bit older than Miyako and her clothes were rather unique.
And this woman was not the only one. Miyako lowered her gaze and saw at least a few dozen people surrounding her while making sure not to block the light from the window. And they all wore the same outfit.
She looked across the unexpected scene.
All of the maids gave looks of surprise and joy over the fact that she had woken up.
They all let out expectant breaths and tried to take a step toward her.
“Please wait a moment, everyone.”
The same voice as before gently stopped the others.
Miyako turned toward the older maid standing to the right of the bed.
The maid looked at her with a relaxed expression.
She turned to face towards her rather than look down at her. Noticing that, Miyako sat up. The others began to move as she did, but the nearby maid stopped them with a light wave of a hand.
…So she’s the leader.
Once she finished sitting up and the blanket fell from her, she realized she was naked.
“Whoa! I’m naked!? Where’re my clothes!?”
“They were very dirty, so we disposed of all but the underwear. You have been quarantined and cleaned, so you are not dirty, princess.”
Miyako tilted her head in confusion and the maid smiled.
“You are not dirty, so do not worry.”
“Y-y’know, you shouldn’t talk about people being dirty. …More importantly, what’s your name?”
“I am Moira 1st.”
“What? Say that again?”
Miyako brushed up her hair, raised a knee, and stared at the maid. She fully wrinkled her brow, but the maid’s smile never wavered.
“I am the first unit of the Moira series, so I am Moira 1st.”
Miyako truly was hearing some other language overlapping with the maid’s voice, but it would be impossible for a human to speak like that.
…Am I hearing a radio or television from somewhere nearby?
As she thought, Miyako thought on what she had just been told.
She did not know what the maid meant by “unit” or “series”, but this was a foreigner. Her speech may have been polite, but there was a good chance her interpretation of Japanese was wrong. It was a sad story of the wonderful depth of the Japanese language. And if that was the case…
“Does this facility belong to some other country?”
“Yes. From your perspective it belongs to another world.”
“I see,” she said with a nod.
She had found the truth. She was in some eccentric foreigner’s mansion.
As she tried to figure out why she was here, she came to a certain realization.
…I have no memories of last night.
What was going on?
“Is something the matter? Is the wiring of your brain out of order?”
“No. Um…listen. Why am I here?”
“Last night…we found you while you were passed out drunk, so we brought you here for your protection.”
There had been a slight pause after the words “last night”. Miyako whistled inwardly and asked herself what that meant.
“I was drunk? I remember drinking at Shinjuku. I remember that much.”
She looked up at the maid’s face and found the same smile, but she found that odd.
Normally, one’s expression would change when asking someone a question.
“Also, I didn’t let myself drink enough to pass out or anything. I remember riding the train to Oume. A perverted old man touched my butt on the way, so I kicked him, kneed him, and then stomped on his crotch. I remember dragging him out at Oume, getting on the train to Okutama, and leaving at Ikusabata Station.”
As she talked through it, her memories returned. She omitted mentioning what had led to the drinking. She never mentioned what the interviewer had said to her.
…Can I prove myself, hm?
She could not. There was no way she could. She had never actually gone out into the field. And so she had gone drinking.
She reminded herself that was from the past and focused on bringing back her memories.
But she stopped speaking there.
Her memories of what happened after leaving Ikusabata Station were gone. Her awareness of her existence was gone.
“What did I do then…?”
“As I said, you passed out drunk.”
“Are you mocking me? That definitely didn’t happen,” she declared firmly.
“Why do you say that?” asked Moira 1st while loosening her smile ever so slightly.
“I made a promise a long time ago.”
Moira 1st responded to her concise answer with a nod and did not press the matter further.
She then spoke so the others could hear.
“Princess, I believe you are tired. Shall we bring you your food?”
“Do as you wish. Bring me my clothes too. And…”
As she spoke, she searched through her mind, but could not find the memories. It felt like she could not clear her head.
“A cig. …You have some, don’t you? Some nice ones. I need something harsh to wake me up.”
“Ahh, this is the problem with foreigners. …A cigarette. Tobacco.”
Despite the explanation, Moira 1st only tilted her head. Miyako smiled bitterly in her heart as she realized how little of the language these people seemed to understand.
“Fine then.” She gestured as if holding something in her mouth. “Y’know, the long skinny things made of wrapped paper. You’ve got some, right?’
The voice came from the entrance behind all the others.
Miyako looked up toward the energetic voice and saw a girl running forward through the wave of maids.
This maid also had blonde hair, but it was only semi-long. Her blue eyes approached.
“This was in the prizes Aigaion brought! Is this what you mean!?”
The maid held out a white stick poking out of a small paper box.
Miyako looked at the girl while taking it. She was a short girl with conspicuous blue eyes. She looked about five years younger than Miyako.
…This kind of underclassman would obsessively hang around me in high school.
“Who are you?”
“Moira 3rd! I created your fake mem- gh!”
Moira 1st gently yet forcefully grabbed the girls’ head from behind.
“My apologies. This is our youngest sister. She was rolled out before she had learned enough.”
“I’m not quite sure what you mean, but it’s good for kids to be energetic.”
“See, big sis! She praised me for being energetic! It’s a good thing!”
“Heh heh. 3rd? You are not energetic; you are hyperactive. Lower your brain’s thought level to energetic. Do you want to be spanked until your legs fall from their joints again?”
Miyako sighed as she watched Moira 3rd and Moira 1st who held the girl.
…This is quite the family.
But if there was a 1st and 3rd, there was likely a 2nd. And there had to be a master of the facility as well.
She wondered where they were.
She relaxed her shoulders while feeling dissatisfied at not being able to see everything.
“When can I leave this place?”
“We will discuss that later. Please wait a bit. We will bring you food and clothes first.
“Thanks,” she said while staying on her guard.
…This all smells fishy.
At any rate, she had a cigarette to fuel her. Now she was prepared to give this some real thought. She just needed a light to switch on her brain.
She wondered if someone would bring a lighter if she stuck the cigarette in her mouth.
As all the maids watched, she placed it in her mouth.
While aware of all the gazes on her, she breathed in on the unlit cigarette.
“Wait, you idiot! This is a chocolate cigarette! And it’s pickled seaweed flavored!? Is this made by IAI!?”
Light filled the room.
The white lace curtain was drawn and the window was open.
No one was in the bed by the window and no one sat in the chair in front of the opposite desk.
The boy named Hiba was peering inside the room.
He knocked on the door he had started to open.
She was not there. He saw no one on the pale green carpet either.
“Mikage-saaan. If you don’t come out, I’ll start searching through the room.”
As he called out quietly, he tiptoed into the room.
First, he peeked under the bed, but there was no one there.
Odd, he thought as he looked meaninglessly from left to right.
He placed a hand on Mikage’s bed and could still feel warmth. That was her body heat.
It’s so warm, he thought calmly before frantically shaking his head.
“Th-this makes me look like a pervert. I need to stop.”
But it is warm, he thought as he calmed down.
It did not help that he was exhausted from the previous dream. He kneeled next to the bed and collapsed his upper body on top of it as if bowing.
It was warm. He noticed a faint citrus smell which reminded him of her hair’s scent.
After staying like that for about ten seconds, he slowly and reluctantly got up.
He peeked under the desk behind him, but there was no one there either. He then glanced on top of the desk.
He saw three things there: a thick diary, a thick red mechanical pencil, and a Japanese language textbook.
The textbook was for the first year of middle school. The back cover was facing up and the name Hiba Ryuuji was written on it.
He stood up once he saw that. His expression softened and he turned toward the window with a slight smile.
The window led out to a balcony, but…
“Mikage-san wouldn’t be out there since her legs don’t work well.”
And so he approached the window and crouched down. The curtain was gathered around one side of the east-facing window and a person had sunk into the waves of the curtain.
It was Mikage.
Her blonde hair had not been brushed since she had woken up and she was wrapped in the lace curtain while wearing the white dress she slept in.
Hiba looked at her neck.
The skin peeking through the lace curtain and the dress had different colors.
Some was a flesh color so light it was almost white and some was almost black. The black portions drew the tendons of her neck and had the same composition as the muscles below her skin.
And on the upper part of her sternum from her neck to her chest was another color.
This part was blue
A small blue stone was inserted into her skin.
He watched as the blue stone gently reflected the morning sun.
“She’s been like this for five years now. Her body, her legs, and her voice.”
He hung his head down a bit.
“And it’s all because I can’t protect her and I can’t gather the Concept Core.”
His words fell quietly to the floor.
He had to win. He had to win the fight for her sake.
…But what will happen then?
What would happen once the fight was over?
The fact that he did not know caused his expression to change. His eyebrows and mouth twisted.
At the same time, Mikage moved slightly.
It was a small motion. Her eyelids opened and her eyes focused.
He quickly changed his expression back to normal.
Her black eyes looked up at him.
After a moment, he turned his scarlet eyes toward hers.
She tilted her head as if to ask why he was here.
But her expression quickly changed to a smile and her lips moved a bit.
She produced no voice.
Hiba knew why. Her vocal cords were still immature.
…She can only speak while combined with me in the god of war.
She produced her silent voice. They had continually practiced together in the hopes that she would speak, so he could read her lips.
“Ah ih ih?”
What is it?
He read her lips and nodded.
“We got back late last night, so I thought you might still be asleep.”
He then gently removed the curtain from around her. As if peeling away the curtain, he produced the white dress within. He took a breath and picked up her body which was taller than his own.
She was not surprised. He always did this.
…I need to win.
At the very least, he felt the need to win so that he could protect these everyday things.
But he had a sudden thought about Typhon, the white god of war he had faced the previous night and before.
According to his grandfather, it was 3rd-Gear’s strongest god of war.
…It can instantly switch between offense and defense.
If it could do so repeatedly, he was unsure he could defeat it.
As he wondered what to do, he saw Mikage’s mouth open.
“Ah ih ih?”
“Eh? Oh, it’s nothing. I was just thinking is all.”
The ends of her eyebrows were lowered, so he smiled reassuringly.
That was when he heard a woman’s voice from beyond the door and down the stairs.
“Ryuuji-san? The school just called.”
“Huh? What is it, mom?”
“Oh, dear. Did you go in Mikage-san’s room again? Listen. You’re an adult now.”
“Yes, yes, yes. You can give me the lecture later.”
Mikage’s shoulders shook slightly in laughter as he held her.
As he watched that, he heard his mother’s voice again.
“Your homeroom teacher called to say the student council wants to speak with you. They apparently said it is about last night and that you would understand what that means.”
His mother’s voice contained no emotion.
“It seems those UCAT members are fairly clever.”
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